In various posts, I’ve talked about how there is a slow but increasing trend to encourage employers to “ban the box” when it comes to job applications. That catchy (yet non-descriptive phrase) refers to a checkbox that is often found on job applications that asks applicants if they have any criminal convictions.
The news this week on that issue is that Target is the latest big employer to adopt such a practice. This is also in response to the EEOC’s guidance from 2012 strongly encouraging employers to eliminate the practice.
It’s quite likely that the Connecticut General Assembly will also revisit the issue in the upcoming 2014 legislative session.
For employers, it’s important to note that banning the “box” does not mean that employers shouldn’t consider past convictions at all in determining an employee’s eligibility for employment. Rather, like many background checks, the employer in those instances will wait until the applicant reaches the interview stage or gets a conditional job offer to ask about those convictions.
Right now though, EEOC guidance notwithstanding, private employers still remain free (mostly) to use those convictions as they see fit in the hiring process.
Public employers have some additional restrictions, so if you’re using criminal convictions to make decisions about who to hire, make sure you understand all of the limitations, which cannot be fully summarized in a single blog post.
Footnote: In an earlier post last July, I criticized the Office of Legislative Research for a report that I thought did not accurately state the status of the law in the area. I’m pleased to report that the OLR has updated their report to better reflect the status and I strongly recommend it as further background on this important subject.